Without legally mandated COVID-19 Return to Work Training, you could be sued

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Date sent: 2020/08/07 20:11:38
Workplace litigation relating to COVID-19 has increased dramatically in recent weeks across the country. This has made employers nationwide re-consider the need to offer COVID-19 Return to Work training to all employees, regardless of whether they are in a state that has mandated training or not. In addition to federal workplace safety claims and state workplace safety claims, there are a number of other concerns for employers.

Workers&rsquo Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation claims relating to viruses, such as the flu, have traditionally been rejected due to the employee’s inability to prove the infection occurred in the workplace. However, several states are considering legislation that would extend workers’ compensation laws to presumptively cover Covid-19-related illnesses for certain classes of employees. California, New York, and Wyoming have also passed legislation that would amend workers’ compensation laws to include Covid-19-related illnesses as an injury eligible for coverage. Employee workplace safety training can help mitigate the potential for Covid-19-related illness in the workplace and any resulting workers’ compensation liability.

Personal Injury and Other Tort Claims

Other liability issues that could arise for not implementing workplace safety training include tort claims, such as wrongful death, if the employee’s family can prove the employer acted &ldquo negligently&rdquo or &ldquo recklessly&rdquo in failing to provide a safe workplace. The success of such a claim could reasonably be supported by showing the employer failed to comply with applicable agency guidance, such as not providing the required or recommended workplace safety training. Other tort claims include negligence, public nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and intentional or negligent misrepresentation.

In a recent case against several McDonald&rsquos franchises in Chicago, Illinois, a Circuit Court judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering franchisees to train employees on proper social distancing and enforce mask-wearing policies, in compliance with the Illinois Governor&rsquos Order. Five employees brought the lawsuit against McDonald’s franchisees, claiming the restaurants acted negligently and created a public nuisance by not correctly and adequately training employees on social distancing and failing to enforce face-covering requirements. Relying on the Governor&rsquos Order and state agency guidance, the court found plaintiffs were successful in showing the possibility of infection at the workplace and subsequent injury was “highly probable.” As a result, the court ordered the restaurants to provide employee training on appropriate social distancing practices in the workplace and to properly enforce face-covering requirements.

This high-profile case is a clear example of what can happen if an employer fails to provide an adequate return to work training. Even if employees never left the workplace, it is essential to now provide them with training on COVID-19 and workplace safety. Those organizations that choose to provide return to work training will be mitigating their own legal risk, but also creating a safer workplace for all of their employees. The benefits to providing safe workplace training are numerous.

While a handful of states are considering legislation to protect employers from certain tort claims related to Covid-19, provided the employer acted in good faith to protect employees, workplace safety training can help minimize employee exposure to Covid-19 in all 50 states.

These are extraordinary times for all of us, and employees who feel safe in the workplace will not only want to return to work but will be less likely to complain to federal or state agencies or bring a lawsuit against their employer should Covid-19 infiltrate the workplace.

Not only it is important that you provide training, but it is essential that you provide adequate training. You need to be aware of mandated content in your state, so that you meet all of the required standards. In addition, you will need to ensure that you are monitoring state and federal guidance as it is updated. If your training is not up-to-date with the latest guidance, your liability will increase. Guidance is continually being updated by state agencies, OSHA and the CDC.

Covid-19 Return to Work Online Training

Clear Law Institute has created an interactive online training that complies with OSHA and CDC Guidelines and the laws in those states that currently require Covid-19 workplace safety training. Clear Law monitors state-issued orders from all 50 states and updates its training on a daily basis as federal, state, and industry guidance changes.

Clear Law Institute’s online course, COVID-19 Safe Workplace Training, is fully narrated and includes numerous interactive animations, video demonstrations, and exercises to keep employees engaged while also learning the essential workplace safety measures needed to protect their health and the health and safety of other employees.

Clear Law Institute provides online compliance training for more than 1,000 employers, including numerous Fortune 500 companies. Click here to receive a FREE Trial of COVID-19 Safe Workplace Training.

Date sent: 2020/09/09 22:44:43
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Date sent: 2020/11/23 18:33:41
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